Tuesday night, the San Antonio Spurs visited Oracle Arena and kicked the snot out of the Golden State Warriors.
Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge had big games, but the most intriguing performer was Jonathon Simmons. In 28 minutes off the bench for the Spurs, Simmons posted 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and one monstrous block:
So, who the heck is Jonathan Simmons? As it turns out, the 27-year-old shooting guard was a rookie with the Spurs last season. He appeared in 55 regular season games, averaging 6 points. But Simmons took the long road to the NBA.
He declared for the 2012 NBA Draft after his junior season at Houston, in which he averaged average 14.7 points per game. But he went undrafted. He then hooked up with the Sugar Land Legends of the American Basketball League, where he averaged 36.5 points per game. According to the D-League’s official website, Simmons then plopped down a $150 registration fee to try out for the Austin Toros (now the Austin Spurs), the D-League affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs.
Simmons caught eyes at that open tryout and went on to average 9.6 points and 1.4 assists during his first season before posting averages of 15.2 points and 3.7 assists in his second D-League season. In 2015, he started getting national attention after a spectacular showing with the Spurs’ Summer League team. Simmons averaged 17 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game and took home the MVP award for his performance in the league championship game:
Shortly after his explosive Summer League performance, the San Antonio Spurs signed Simmons to a two-year deal.
“He’s pretty fearless,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovic told ESPN last season. “He just goes and plays. It’s kind of like Manu [Ginobili]. He just dives into the game and he competes. He’s really got great athletic skills and he’s learning the game. Quick learner, good worker, he’s got a chance to be a longtime player in the league if he pays attention and sticks to it.”
The Spurs are experts at finding diamonds in the rough, and it sounds like Simmons might be next in line.